From Model To Movie Star

In the early 1950s, Sydney teenager Jeanette Elphick was a modelling sensation, so beautiful that she was nicknamed “The Face”. At 17, she made her local movie debut with Chips Rafferty in an Australian cowboy flick called The Phantom Stockman. In 1955 Jeanette got her big break when she worked with Bob Hope, during his first tour Down Under, and the veteran funnyman recommended she go to Hollywood. She did — and became an overnight star under the name Victoria Shaw, thanks to her role with Tyrone Power in The Eddy Duchin Story. More good roles followed — in film noirs The Crimson Kimono and Edge Of Eternity, biopic I Aim For The Stars and sci-fi hit Westworld. But her fame came at a price.

From just after her 16th birthday in 1951, Jeanette Elphick was in hot demand
for ads, photo shoots and fashion parades.
Still 16, Jeanette was named 1951’s “Model Of The Year”.
PIX magazine used her as their cover model — and guide to what makes a model photogenic.
In 1953, Jeanette’s debut film, The Phantom Stockman, was released in Australia
and then played in the US and the UK.
Less than a month after she arrived in Hollywood in July 1955, Jeanette was renamed Victoria Shaw and co-starred with Tyrone Power in The Eddy Duchin Story.
Jeanette-turned-Victoria’s overnight success made a great Cinderella story.
To celebrate her Hollywood success, Australian Women’s Weekly ran this souvenir photo —
as an ad for the product Victoria had long endorsed as top model Jeanette Elphick.
American magazine Photoplay ran this spread in 1956 to promote Hollywood’s newest star.
Columbia’s va-va-voom publicity shot.
Australian Women’s Weekly celebrated Victoria’s 1956 wedding to fellow rising star Roger Smith, which was soon followed them coming Down Under to promote The Eddy Duchin Story.
A neglected desert noir, Edge Of Eternity was directed by Don Siegel, who’d already made Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and would go on to bring us Dirty Harry.
Trailer for Victoria’s other 1959 film noir, The Crimson Kimono, which was the first mainstream sound-era film to feature a positive representation of an Asian-Caucasian romance.
Below: a still from this film.
Australian Women’s Weekly ran this in 1959, by which time Victoria and Roger had two young children. The couple were also regularly featured in American film fan mags.
Charming publicity still. But by the mid-1960s, Victoria’s phone wasn’t ringing as often.
With William Holden in 1966 civil war drama, Alvarez Kelly.
As the Medieval Queen in 1973’s sci-fi hit Westworld. This would be her last film.
Victoria in 1976, as pictured in Australian Women’s Weekly.

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